October 16, 2008
You might ask me, “What about this mayo jar?What are you talking about?What does a mayo jar have to do with cancer?”
All it took was one phone call.My phone rang early on a Friday morning.When does a doctor ever call you personally—really?“You have cancer!”Speechless, I could not respond.I could not hear.His statement sent me into a trance and changed my life forever.How do you tell your family the “C” word?
From the gynecologist to the oncologist and many appointments later, I was operated on for uterine cancer.The hospital nurse told me you have something we want—you do not want to keep it. That helped put my situation in perspective.
I truly believe knowledge is power.I armed myself with information by reading medical, spiritual, and motivational books and magazines.In my reading travels, I read a story about a mayo jar.The suggestion was to find a quote that has meaning to you—one that lifts your spirits.Put the quote in a clean, empty mayo jar.Continue adding quotes, thoughts, and sayings from greeting cards.When you are having a bad day, reach into that mayo jar and pull out a quote.Just a few words of encouragement or friendship from the mayo jar helped me through the day and always brought a smile to my face.My mayo jar was soon overflowing.
Of course, I have my favorite quotes.This quote—which I have memorized and can recite to myself at any given moment—came from a picture hanging on the wall in the oncologist’s examining room:“In the secret garden, the flowers bloomed and bloomed, and in the morning revealed new beauty”.Another of my favorite quotes is “A book is a patient teacher and a quiet friend”.
During my cancer journey, I kept a daily journal which contained my feelings, my improvements, my appointments, my medication, and everything that I felt was needed for me to survive the day.A friend told me to only cry in the shower—that way no one will ever see you crying.The suggestion didn’t work.I cried inside and outside of the shower but that was OK.
Those cancer days, weeks, months were difficult.I had complications with bleeding after my surgery which lead to a second surgery.One of my biggest hurdles was to get from a lying position to a sitting position to a walking position.My muscles were cut and sewn back together making the task very slow and difficult.My pain was always at a peak—there were no valleys.I would look in the bathroom mirror and say “Who is this person?I do not know you”.I could not measure my recovery in days…only in weeks.Each Sunday, I would ask myself how I improved from last Sunday.The improvements were subtle, but they were there.I was sure to note the improvements and my feelings in my journal.
After many months of healing, I returned to work.The same day I noticed a rash.Back to the doctor—now I had shingles.What are shingles anyway?I had heard the term but truly did not know.The doctor said shingles—adult chicken pox—are caused by physical, emotional, and psychological stress.Unfortunately, I had all three.The pain was unbearable—as bad as my two operations.I was out of work for several more weeks.
Now I am turning my journal into a book.Yes, I decided to write a book.The title is “December to December” and tells my tale of medical events between December 2002 and December 2003.I do not mind if the book never sells.It is just a vehicle for me to release my feelings about my cancer situation.I must admit there were a few funny moments—not too many—just a few.Laughter is the best medicine so I decided to include those moments in my book.I feel a need to document the good times as well as the bad times; but really, there is nothing funny about cancer.My loving husband, children, and sisters will be able to read the book and reflect on the cancer journey that they took with me.I may never know if the book will help others.
My faith in God, my wonderful doctor, and my outstanding family were truly the only way I made it through the cancer journey.Prayers go up—blessings come down.There is no such thing as coincidence.God lead me to read the article about the mayo jar and helped me fill my own mayo jar and my life with inspiration to move on.
I had a happy ending—I am five years cancer free.My mayo jar gave me hope and peace.
Why not start your own mayo jar?